County takes one step closer to new jail

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The Socorro County Commission unanimously approved its notice of sale for the general obligation bonds that will build the county’s new jail during the commission’s regular meeting Tuesday.

Chris Muirhead with Modrall Sperling Law Firm, the bond counsel for the county, said the county’s notice of sale resolution relates to the $5 million in G.O. bonds approved by Socorro County voters in the general election Nov. 6. The bonds will be repaid with property taxes collected by the county.

Muirhead said the notice of sale is the next step in the process to fund the new jail. He said the G.O. bonds must be publicly sold to receive competitive bids, and the notice of sale announces the county’s intent to do that. Then the County Commission will accept the best bid for the sale of the bonds at its next regular meeting on Jan. 8, 2013.

Muirhead said the bids will come in by 10 a.m. Jan. 8, then his firm will come before the commission with the winning bid. The county will then approve an award resolution accepting the interest rates and final maturity schedule. The successful bidder will provide a $100,000 good faith deposit by noon that day.

Muirhead said once all that happens, the county will move toward closing the transaction on Feb. 14, 2013.

During her county manager’s report, Delilah Walsh said she recently met with Socorro Mayor Ravi Bhasker and city staff about the jail site. She also met with the architects, who will soon send the proposed site plan, which Walsh will then get to a surveyor. Once they survey it and get the legal description of the property, the city can work on the deeds.

One commissioner said he thought the city was going to donate the land for the jail. Walsh said the city is donating the land, but expects the county to make infrastructure improvements in the area as the jail site is developed.

“Then they would consider that a payment,” Walsh said. “So it is a donation in one sense, but they would like to see the infrastructure improvements.”

Walsh said the city expects the county to finish out the road, which the county must do anyway in building the jail. She said the county needs to visit with the city to work out the details. She said the final deal will be in their hands hopefully by March.

During an interview Wednesday, Walsh said the jail will be built in the city’s industrial park off Enterprise Road, not far from Presbyterian Medical Services and the local Forest Service office. She said the deal with the city is pretty much settled, and the architect is designing the jail with long-term planning in mind for more additions. She said sometime in the future — most likely many, many years from now — what starts as a jail will grow into an entire corrections complex with room for the District Attorney’s office, the sheriff’s office and more, all in one location.

In other business, the county:

  • Approved the certificates of election from the 2012 general election held Nov. 6.
  • Awarded bids for cleaning up illegal dump sites in the county. Bids were awarded to Advanced Environmental Solutions for $2,980 and $5,954; A-1 Quality Redi-Mix for $65,000 and $7,500; and Hignight Construction for $4,472.
  • Awarded a bid for the computer aided dispatch, or CAD, system to Ultimate Database Solutions for $45,000. According to the agenda packet, the county can expect delivery within six to eight weeks of its approval. Walsh said the county is purchasing the CAD through a grant.
  • Approved contract negotiations to proceed with Presbyterian Medical Services for services at the new health center soon to be built in Veguita. Walsh explained it is not a contract award, just permission for staff to work out a contract with PMS — the only bidder for the contract to provide medical services at the new health center. Walsh said it will cost the county about $70,000 per year from the general fund.
  • Approved vendor checks issued from Nov. 27 through Dec. 6 totaling $248,076.41.
  • Approved payroll checks and direct deposits issued Nov. 28 totaling $172,973.96.

In other business, the county discussed but took no action on:

  • The county’s DWI program audit. Walsh said the DWI program was recently audited by the state Department of Finance and Administration, and the program has gone from being one of the worst in the state to one of the best under the leadership of Theresa Rosales, the program’s coordinator. “They kept saying, ‘I can’t believe the difference Theresa has made since 2009,’” Walsh reported.
  • The compensation study. Walsh said the New Mexico Association of Counties has purchased some compensation services from Technology Net. She believes the county can combine those services with its compensation study and save money.
  • Fiber optics. Walsh said she visited with Bhasker and Joe Franklin about partnerships to improve local fiber network infrastructure. She said the city may bore under Neel Avenue to drop fiber underground rather than run it overhead to New Mexico Tech. She said the county has been planning to hook into Tech as a backup system, but the city advised the county to hold off on running fiber overhead until they can look at putting it underground. She said the county, the city and the college will all significantly benefit by having that connectivity.
  • EMS services. Walsh said they need a commitment from the hospital to provide ambulance services.
  • Executive session. The commission held executive session to discuss two civil suits, but took no action afterward. The cases discussed were La Calerita vs. the Socorro County Commission and Farm Credit vs. New Mexico Tax and Revenue.